Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rules Are Meant to Be Broken

Why I Sleep With a Nightlight
Part II

(Click here for Part I)

The most memorable game of Hide and Seek in the Dark was an almost surreal experience. By surreal I mean scarring. And by almost, I mean with absolute certainty. My aunt and mom were hiding and the kids were seeking. Try as we might, we could not find them. My cousin T and I got bored and decided to let the boys keep looking while we took a break. We climbed up on my parents bed and proceeded to scare the holy hell out of ourselves. I don't know who started it, I wouldn't doubt that it was me and my overactive imagination. We started talking about how it was so dark that you could make yourself see things. It was like when you close your eyes, you can still see pictures and images.

As we described the things we saw, the ideas got creepier and creepier. The only thing I remember specifically was one of us saying there was a claw creeping over the edge of the bed. We started screaming and did not stop even when all the boys stampeded into the room to our rescue. Hysterically we told them how we had freaked ourselves out. After we calmed down, we had a mini conference to discuss the situation we were facing. We had been looking for them for over an hour unable to find them and had to face facts. It was time to break one of the rules.

The amount of dedication we had to keeping the game rules intact amazes me. Not one of us even contemplated turning on the lights. I could be remembering this incorrectly, but we didn't even turn the lights on during the screaming. The boys had to calm us down in the dark. It was extremely important that we not violate their hiding places. After much discussion, it was decided that we would give up. We all went into the bathroom and waited while my cousin E broadcasted the terms of our surrender throughout the house. We would retreat to the bathroom and make a lot of noise to cover up any sounds they might make extracting themselves from where they had hidden. They could come out without worrying about discovery. Then he joined us and closed the door as he yelled, "Olly, olly oxen free!"

Ten minutes passed and nobody came to get us. To say my family is stubborn is an understatement. We assumed that they weren't going to come out even though we couldn't find them. So we decided we were just going to stop looking for them. We went out into the living room. For some reason during this particular game, the living room curtains had not been closed. This gave us enough light to see; it was eerie and ghostly. After the screaming earlier, we were all a little tense. I don't remember what we talked about but I do know that E and I were a little worried.

It is funny to think back on how we started taking charge of the situation. We quietly discussed between ourselves what we thought was really going on while reassuring the younger kids that everything was fine. The only plan we had worked out was that we were just going to keep everyone calm and wait until our moms got bored enough to come out. They had been hiding for almost two hours which was twice as long as we could ever remember a round lasting for so it could only be a matter of time.

During one of these discussions, I happened to look up and see my aunt reflected in the living room window. I whipped around to look at the dining room thinking that she had finally decided to come out. She wasn't there. I turned back around and saw nothing in the window. All I could do was point at the window in mute terror trying to comprehend what I had just seen. E had watched the whole mystifying performance but had not seen what I had. Somehow he managed to get me to explain what was freaking me out. Another conference was had and we decided to look outside. None of us believed that they would hide outside because A) it was against the rules and B) they would have killed any one of us who had dared to go outside in the middle of the night, so there is no way we could have found them if they did. However, we had to find out what was going on and see what was out there.

After much discussion, it was decided that I would be the one to open the door. No one else was willing to do it and the general consensus was that I was the oldest by six months, so it fell to me. Looking back, it seems like a sit-com. We formed a sort of line that went in order from oldest to youngest. I was pushed to the door by the four others clumped behind me to lend me moral support. Taking a deep breath, I reached out and grabbed the door handle. Before I could do anything, I felt the handle turn under my hand. Screaming I flung myself backwards with so much force, I knocked everyone down into a giant heap. At this point, every child there was screaming, yelling, crying and/or peeing while trying to extract themselves from the pile up to run away.

My aunt hurried through the door followed closely by my mom. I don't know how long it took them to calm us down. I do remember being livid and yelling at them for breaking the rules and hiding outside. I wasn't angry that they had scared me so badly I may or may not have peed my pants. I was indignant that they had destroyed the integrity of our game. Especially after we spent so much time preserving it.

It didn't help that they couldn't stop laughing.


  1. Being a visualization person, I could watch this story as you told it. You really have a flare for story telling. I wish you would finish your book someday. Of course the amount of time we were hidden seems a bit long.

  2. Originally I had accidentally typed you hid for a year. It may have been less time, but it's my blog!

  3. Well done. I really enjoyed this.

  4. Again, I laughed so hard at your domino pile at the door I had to stop and wipe my eyes.

    Book? What book? tell me more!